I picked up the Vancouver Sun today and, as usual, paid particular attention to stories about the justice system. Here are two paragraphs that caught my eye:

“Former teacher Tom Ellison was sentenced Friday to house arrest for sex crimes against teenage students at Prince of Wales high school in the late 1970’s and early ’80’s” page A1

“The group of 16 protesters appeared stunned as B.C. Supreme Court Justice Brenda Brown sentenced Squamish elder Harriet Nahanee to 14 days for her part in disobeying a B.C. Supreme Court injunction telling protesters to stay away from [Eagleridge Bluffs] on May 25 of last year.” page B3

Hmm…I have spent more time in jail (five hours) than convict Tom Ellison will, and I wasn’t charged, let alone convicted, for anything at all.

As for 70 year old Harriet Nahanee, does punishment of 14 days in jail fit the crime resulting from the act of standing with others to try to prevent the blasting of a sensitive environmental area?

I would like to use this space to try to answer this question and explain these sentences, but my law degree and only 22 years of courtroom experience leave me ill equipped for the task.